Ireland Weekend Part 4: Causeway Coast and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

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Beaten by the elements, the northern coast of Ireland is invigorating tranquility, suited for a winter nestled by the fireplace or a summer bracing the wind on coastal trails.

Giant’s Causeway is the showpiece, while the rough coast is dotted with ruins and solitary farmsteads that make for a great outing.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is the other big draw, now open year-round, a 15-minute drive away.

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We had spent the night at the Crockatinney Guest House near Ballycastle. The rooms are simple comfort, the owner friendly, the breakfast solid. The heaters are those eco-friendly types meaning they look modern and produce little heat. We were all frozen by morning. The approach from the gate is not well-marked and at night it is easy to go the wrong way and find yourself in the fields, in daytime the house is visible over the hills. This is a solid low-mid budget option compared to the many mid-high price options along the coast. The owner’s husband appears to double as the ‘Ace of Cabs’.

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We supped at The Cellar in Ballycastle.

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Driving the coast west through Bushmills and on to Londonderry/Derry is a parade of views to distract from the steering wheel.

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Bushmills is home to the eponymous distillery with tours and custom-labeled bottles in the gift shop. We lunched at the Bushmills Inn where Deb warmed by the fire, “This is where we will stay next time.”

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Dunluce Castle is £5 to enter the castle, free to clamber down to the cave below, guess where everyone heads?

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Downhill Demesne and Hezlett House we approached in steady rain and setting sun, marching up a hill peppered with sheep dung.

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I wanted a peek at Londonderry/Derry, but it was too greedy to attempt in the short weekend. It took us farther out of our way that I thought just by looking at the map due to heavy traffic and narrow roads, even on a Sunday night. We had time to get a warming coffee before the shopping mall closed, everything else already appeared closed, and with a few glimpses of the city from under our umbrellas, it was time for the long, dark drive through rain back to Dublin.

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A successful, exhausting trip capped by getting lost again in Dublin. Rick and Deb put up with me with great patience and good humor. I will be back for Skellig Michael.

See Part 1 for the itinerary, Part 2 for Brú na Bóinne and Part 3 for Giant’s Causeway.

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